Italian Presidency website will not be in French or German

Matteo Renzi
Italy's Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, speaking during the G7 in Brussels, 5 June 2014 [Palazzo Chigi/Flickr]

The Italian Presidency of the European Union's official website will only publish in English and Italian, meaning it will not be translated into French or German for the first time since 2007, EurActiv France reports.

The Italians, who take over from the Greek Presidency on 1 July, have opted not to translate their official website, which goes live in the next few days, to French, German or any of the other 24 official languages of the EU, to save money. The choice was made by Enrico Letta's government and approved by his successor, Matteo Renzi, Italy's Prime Minister who will be at the controls of the EU until December, 2014.

>> Read: EurActiv Italy: Presidency: website only in Italian and English

The decision shows how English has become increasingly dominant in European communications, especially when compared to the European Commission's two other official working languages - French and German.

Multi-linguist tradition

Since 2007, all EU presidencies made a point of offering multilingual websites. They have always included German, French, English and their national language.

Although the European Union has 24 official languages, the working languages of the European Commission are just English, French and German.

During their Presidency in 2008, France went beyond the call of duty and translated their website into Polish, Spanish and Italian. In 2010, Spain also produced versions in their main regional languages of Catalan, Basque and Galatian.

Greece, which is currently President of the Council, had a mandate marked by austerity and limited their spending to €50 million. Despite their tight budget, the official website still offered four languages: Greek and the three EU working languages, English, French and German.


Italy's decision has caused a stir among MEPs. "It is a disgrace" said Michèle Rivasi, the leader of the French Greens in the European Parliament. "Considering the rise of Euroscepticism in wake of the European elections, this decision almost comes as provocation," she continued.

According to the French MEP, budget cuts do not justify the decision to leave out French and German. "Cuts could have been made elsewhere, for example, on the Presidency's subsistence costs or on transport."

"I think we will call on the Presidency of the European Parliament to address this issue," she said.

>>Read:  Eurostat: English reinforces its status as Europe’s ‘lingua franca’

Italy's decision not to limit the translation of their official language is not an isolated case. English has emerged as the most dominant working language of the EU institutions over the past few years, at the expense of French and German.

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Joe Thorpe's picture

Doesn't Google Chrome work in these countries, just open the site in Chrome & hey Presto it changes to whatever language you want, I know the EU hates Google & probably doesn't want to use it but it's there & its free to use!

andrea4862's picture

If you think that an automatic translator can do the job you're awfully wrong. If you think that a computer is enough for the task, you obviously have no idea on how complex and "Human" is translating to or from another language.

Joe Thorpe's picture

Well I can talk to my phone it picks up every word perfectly (Samsung Galaxy) & it then delivers the result either verbally or written within seconds in any language. I have used it many time in Poland & it works perfectly. I don't see what the fuss is. Translating costs a fortune & we are all paying for it.

A Londoner's picture

I find this change very significant. The serious case against the possibility of establishing European democracy has been that there is no European demos. The lack of a shared identity and in particular the absence of a common language made the idea of reaching decisions democratically following a European conversation an impossibility.

The fact that the Italians are willing to accept French hostility in order to emphasise the importance of a common language is impressive. There is clearly a great deal of life in the European Project yet!

The irony is that the country which produced the common language clearly rejects being part of the European demos.

an european's picture

lot's of languages are communication killer !
There are member-states You have to learn 3 languages -German French English besides you own motherlanguage and other school subjects !!
My suggest would be preferaby first be the Mother-language and then the english!

As joe says "Translating costs a fortune & we are all paying for it"!
Of course english only would be logically be the best choice !